Open main menu

The Souvenir of Western Women/The Woman's Relief Corps

< The Souvenir of Western Women


The Woman's Relief Corps

By JULIA A. KEMP LAWTON

THE Woman's Relief Corps, the auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic, numbering now almost 150,000 members, is the largest beneficent and patriotic organization in the world. It was organized in 1883 in Denver, Colorado, following a call by Commander-inChief Paul Vandervoort. From a small band of charter members, it has grown beyond all anticipation in numbers and in bounteous charity.

The Relief Corps is organized to give, not to receive. Loyal women, whose names are interwoven with professional and social activities, whose hearts beat always in sympathy for the unfortunate, have been proud to have their names upon its rolls.

The Oregon department of the Woman's Relief Corps was organized January 28, 1885. Later departments were organized in all the other states in the old Oregon Country. There is now in Oregon a membership of over 3000. Not so large as in the states of the East, but relatively equal to them in all its activities. Through the Corps thousands of dollars have been given for relief; a liberal contribution has been made to the fund to purchase the Andersonville Prison grounds, now converted into a National Park. It also assists generously in the yearly decoration of the soldiers' graves in the South, in the relief of the flood sufferers in different states, in the building and furnishing of homes and hospitals, and contributes to a fund now being raised to build cottages at the Soldiers' Home so that husband and wife may spend their last days together in comfort, the guests of a grateful people. The widowed have been assisted in their home needs; the orphans have been cared for and placed in private homes or schools, or, if need be, provided with books and clothing.

The Woman's Relief Corps co-operates with the Grand Army of the Republic in patriotic teaching, in humane instruction, and in the precepts of peace and arbitration. They make a special effort to promote the observance of June 14, the birthday of our flag, and also to induce all the schools to provide a flag. So far as is known no school is now without one. The corps is engaged also in patriotic teaching in the Philippine Islands, in Cuba and in Porto Rico. Memorial day is held sacred by the members as less a holiday and more a holy day. Withal, children are taught, not only to know and honor the dead, but to reverence the gray-haired veterans, who walk the streets with slow and faltering tread. Thus by associated effort, accompanied by active service in doing the lesser things day by day is made up the aggregate of the work of the members of the Relief Corps. In making the joys of others do they find their own.